Sexual imagery created by and for women has a recent but powerful history. "Coming To Power" pays homage to the first generation of women artists who pioneered a new artistic genre in the mid 60s and early 70s using explicit sexual imagery. Artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Carolee Schneemann, Hannah Wilke and Nancy Spero appropriated this tradition and transformed it into an expression of female freedom and identity. "Coming to Power" also presents the work of a younger generation of female artists. In contrast to the previous generation's more politicized work, the intended impact of the younger artists' work is to elicit sexual excitement as well as express autonomous pleasure, passion and pain. Together both generations engage in a dialogue previously dominated by men and disallowed to women by the taboos in society.
The exhibition creates both the historical context for female erotic work, and a contemporary forum for further sexual art by women. We have therefore chosen to include special event evenings devoted to film, video and performance with practitioners such as Annie Sprinkle, Trash, Lynda Benglis, Cicciolina, Candida Royalle and many others.
Jan Avgikos, Liz Kotz, Linda Nochlin and Lorraine O'Grady are writing historical and critical essays relating specifically to this exhibition.
This exhibition and related events have been curated by artist Ellen Cantor. "Coming to Power" has been sponsored by Simon Watson and the Contemporary in conjunction with David Zwirner.